Using Social Media to Discover Public Values, Interests, and Perceptions about Cattle Grazing on Park Lands

“Moment of Truth—and she was face to faces with this small herd…” Photo and comment by Flickr™ user, Doug GreenbergIn a recent open access journal article published in Envrionmental Management, colleague Sheila Barry explored the use of personal photography in social media to gain insight into public perceptions of livestock grazing in public spaces. In this innovative paper, Sheila examined views, interests, and concerns about cows and grazing on the photo-sharing website, FlickrTM. The data were developed from photos and associated comments posted on Flickr™ from February 2002 to October 2009 from San Francisco Bay Area parks, derived from searching photo titles, tags, and comments for location terms, such as park names, and subject terms, such as cow(s) and grazing. She found perceptions about cattle grazing that seldom show up at a public meeting or in surveys. Results suggest that social media analysis can help develop a more nuanced understanding of public viewpoints useful in making decisions and creating outreach and education programs for public grazing lands. This study demonstrates that using such media can be useful in gaining an understanding of public concerns about natural resource management. Very cool stuff!

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